How to cultivate masculinity in a culture that despises it.
Men and the Future of America
Senator Josh Hawley has struck a powerful rhetorical blow against woke communism.
Senator Josh Hawley recently gave a much commented upon speech on the virtues of masculinity. It was a very fine speech; indeed, it may have been one of the most significant senatorial speeches of his generation.
Hawley understands that the traditional traits of masculinity—stoicism, competitiveness, conquest, achievement and aggression—are good and necessary for a self-governing society, as long as they are channeled into behaviors, such as productive work and providing for a family, that serve the common good. He also knows that if these natural traits are suppressed they get channeled into dysfunctional behaviors—crime, drugs, pornography, and the like.
As good speeches do, his speech surprised his listeners. We no longer hear talk about manliness in public. The radical left, whom I call the “woke communists,” have forbidden it. The great virtue of Hawley’s speech is that he talked about this forbidden thing, and in doing so gave others permission to talk about it. Hawley knows—as the woke comms know—that politics is ultimately about what it means to live a good life, and therefore what it means to be a human being and what it means to be a man or a woman. The woke comms are determined to destroy traditional sex roles as part of their project to destroy America. Hawley’s speech on masculinity must be understood in this larger context.
If Senator Hawley chooses to give more speeches along these lines, I have some unsolicited advice: provide a comprehensive understanding of the woke comm regime, which he points to in his speech but does not fully develop. He needs to give concerned Americans a framework to order and understand the historic events unfolding around us: we need to see clearly and fully the principles that animate the woke comms, their objectives, and their strategies. What do they want and how they are going about getting it?
Woke communism defines a growing totalitarian regime composed of a loose partnership of the administrative state, the Democratic Party (which has been taken over by the woke comms), and the cultural-business complex. The riots of 2020 are a good example of woke communism in action. Woke comm agitators sparked the flame that lit the riots. Their intellectual leaders justified the riots; their corporate donors gave billions to the Black Lives Matter network; their media said the riots were peaceful, and their politicians, from Joe Biden on down, fanned the flames.
Like all totalitarian ideologies, woke communism is self-righteous and intolerant, built on lies and the silencing of those who challenge the lies. The woke comms decide what is true and what is false; indeed, the woke comm regime seeks to abolish the capacity for distinguishing between truth and falsehood. Woke communism has a scapegoat (white males, whom the woke comms say oppress all minority groups) and a utopian vision of society, one where there are equal outcomes for all identity groups in every area of human life. This is the woke communist vision of a just society, which they call “social justice.”
For example, the woke comms insist that in a just world, men and women would participate in more or less equal numbers in every sphere of life, from infant care to different kinds of paid work, to high-level positions in industry and politics. The American tradition of individual merit, liberty, and equality of opportunity, on the other hand, leads to outcome inequality. In traditional America a just society is one where free individuals pursue happiness according to their own goals and predilections. A society so constituted will necessarily produce outcome differences—between men and women, and among various cultural groups. These two regimes, woke communism and traditional America, cannot coexist peacefully. You cannot aim for outcome equality and outcome inequality at the same time, any more than you can aim for collective ownership of property and protection of private ownership at the same time.
These are differences in ends. Ends cannot be negotiated. This is what makes the current contest a war, in this case a cold civil war. For the woke comms to achieve outcome equality they must destroy the American way of life and all that it stands for.
This is what Senator Hawley needs to explain to American citizens. Unless we think about our problems in the right way, we will never solve them. And because at present we don’t think as clearly as we might, what we see from the woke comms looks like a bunch of mostly unrelated bad policies, rather than a collection of coordinated bad policies all serving a common purpose: outcome equality, which the woke comms call “equity.”
If we understood more clearly than we do that outcome equality in all fields of endeavor is the goal of woke communism, we might be able to head off the woke comms at the pass. But first we need a name for our enemy. I hope Hawley uses my term, “woke communism.” We won’t defeat our enemy unless we give it a name.
Senator Hawley should make “outcome equality” his rallying cry. He will do us a great service by explaining how outcome equality leads to our present discontents. He should explain how the ideology of outcome equality keeps inner cities fatherless and crime ridden, teaches white children to hate themselves and all children to hate their country, reduces excellence across the board, explains socialism, the attack on so-called “toxic” masculinity, the taking down of statues, transgenderism, defunding the police, and flooding the country with illegal immigrants. He will do us a service us as well by explaining how the desire for outcome equality leads to the destruction of the nuclear family, depopulation, and the weakening of our military and of our resolve to defend ourselves. He must make it clear how each of these goals is connected to outcome equality. He needs to connect the dots.
I suggest he sit down and lay out his next 20 or so speeches, each explaining one goal of the woke comms. My list might give him a start.
Perhaps in one speech Hawley will explain how the destruction of masculinity is part of the woke comm project to destroy the traditional nuclear family. He might even argue that such families produce better citizens than alternative arrangements.
Perhaps Senator Hawley will give a speech about women. He might be so bold as to say that what most women want is to marry, stay home, and raise their children—not every woman to be sure, but the majority. It is the care of one’s own children that holds the greatest satisfaction for the feminine soul. True, not all women are able to stay home. True also, women can do most of the work men do, including the most demanding work, but having and raising children, with a loving and supportive husband, is what most women prefer to do. And what most men prefer. The happiness of marriage and family are aspirations of many millions of American women—and men.
Perhaps Senator Hawley will help us anticipate the coming assaults on these aspirations. Already on the table, is universal childcare. This, of course, makes it easier for women to work outside the home. Most people, even many on the Right, think this is a good idea. But it is not. For those who wish to strengthen marriage and family, public policy should aim not at making it easier for women to work, but rather at making it easier for women to stay home with their children.
Abolishing home schooling is, I believe, another woke comm aspiration. Women usually do the lion’s share of homeschooling, which makes it difficult for them to compete with men in the marketplace, and, at the same time, homeschooling makes it easier for parents to educate their children in ways that run counter to woke comm ideology. In the recent Virginia gubernatorial race the Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe said as much. “I don’t think parents” he said, “should be telling schools what they should teach.” However inadvertent, this was a true reflection of the woke comm’s desire to make the government the sole educator of our children.
Hawley should explain how our schools teach the woke comm ideology: that the sexes are interchangeable; women are the victims of the patriarchy; marriage creates dependency; having a career is the only way for a woman to live a worthy life. As noted earlier, just saying such things will give cover to others who are inclined to say them. If, on the other hand, our leaders remain silent, we will end up submitting to the woke comm agenda.
As in the case of Critical Race Theory, politicians like Hawley should help parents push back against an education that devalues marriage, masculinity, and children.
Communal childrearing may well be the woke comm’s end game. This probably sounds far-fetched and would be disavowed by most woke comms but consider the roster of ideas taken seriously today that would have sounded preposterous a few years ago: defunding the police; allowing biological males to use women’s restrooms; and making women athletes compete against biological males . Some radical feminists already explicitly espouse communal childrearing . One even hears it mentioned on occasion in the mainstream media. Hillary Clinton’s book It Takes a Village pointed in this direction a long time ago. Hawley should make the specter of communal childrearing part of the national discussion.
Perhaps Senator Hawley can get his Republican colleagues to join him. We need more such speeches at every level, and we need to repeat them every chance we get. Perhaps the Republicans will make defeating woke communism a major plank in their platform. The goal should be not to persuade the woke comms or even independents. For that we would have to pull too many punches. Our goal should be to help the Right understand fully the war the woke comms are waging on America, on men and women, and on human nature itself, so that we can devise a strategy for defeating them and saving our country.
Senator Hawley has many more speeches to give. He is one of relatively few national leaders inclined to, and capable of, giving such speeches. I strongly encourage him to do so.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.